Carl Spitzweg

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There comes an artist every century or so who goes on to create that one painting which would go on to define them for generations to come. For Leonardo da Vinci it was the Mona Lisa and for German painter Carl Spitzweg, it his masterpiece the Poor Poet. Spitzweg is one of those very few painters whose work was so extraordinary that most of it ended up being stolen, just like the case of the Poor Poet. Up until 1989 the Poor Poet was hung at the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, but unfortunately it got stolen and has been lost ever since. Just its insurance price is set at one million euros which goes to show how important the painting and the man who created it is. Spitzweg was quite famous for his romanticist approach to painting and he went on to paint many different genres rather than sticking to just one thing.

Carl Spitzweg was born in February 5, 1808 in Unterpfaffenhofen, Bavaria the third son into a family of wealthy merchants. Heavily influences by education, Spitzweg’s father encouraged him to pursue a strong career on pharmacy for which he enrolled at the University of Munich in Germany. Being the obedient son that he was Spitzweg did study pharmacy but also took up art as a hobby in order to cure his boredom.  Spitzweg was entirely self-taught as an artist and used to recreate works of famous Flemish artists in order to gain a better understanding of painting. After obtaining his inheritance Spitzweg decided to pursue art as a full time profession and ventured to places like Paris, Venice, Prague, London and Belgium studying the works of other artists and refining his techniques. Spitzweg as an artist is known more for the subject matter in his paintings rather than the style or composition. There was always a strong meaning associated with all of his works, which were laid down in a humorous manner. Spitzweg painted ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances with a strong hint of comedy involved in his painting. His paintings offered a humorous look into the life of the middle classes. Spitzweg was able to mesh three varying elements – realism, humor and fancy – together in a refined manner. It wasn’t just the Poor Poet which got stolen, another one of Spitzweg’s extraordinary painting titled the Love Letter has also been missing since the 1980’s. He is considered to be one of the most important artists of the Biedermeier era, one whose work managed to capture humanity and poke fun of life in general as well.

Very little is known about the artists himself, what sort of a person he was yet there is more information available on his works. Perhaps this was the way Spitzweg intended it to be, to be known for his work rather than his personal life. There is a certain level of charm and nostalgia associated with Carl Spitzweg’s works, one which takes the viewer into another world. It’s almost as if he is saying – through his paintings – that despite life being difficult it’s a shame to not enjoy it at the same time.

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